Jesus Journey: 40 Days in the Footsteps of Christ

Day 33


Read Mark 14:32–42

I’ll admit, I feel a chill. And it’s not just because it’s a cool morning. Our group is standing on the actual Mount of Olives, a ridge of hills that rises to the east of the city of Jerusalem.

And I’m in awe as I think of all the important things that happened here. Zoom into the gospels for glimpses of the Mount of Olives throughout Christ’s life.

Several times he walked to Jerusalem from Bethany, which was on the other side of the ridge from Jerusalem. The road cuts right across the Mount of Olives.

When Jesus was in Jerusalem he liked to spend time up here. In those days the whole ridge was covered with olive trees, so it must have been shady and cool during hot summer days.

The Bible also says that Jesus entered Jerusalem from the Mount of Olives on what we know as Palm Sunday.

And this is the place he prayed on the night he was betrayed.

Now zoom out a little and ask — why a Mount of Olives? Why was there a whole area full of olive trees next to a big city like Jerusalem?

Because olives were an important commodity.


Olive oil was fuel for lamps, a base for cosmetics, a liquid for cooking — olive oil was a staple (you even need it to make hummus
— really!).

For oil extraction, olives are placed in something called the “sea,” a round bathtub-like container, where a millstone crushes them over and over again. Next, the crushed olives are put in a reed basket, under a heavy stone called the olive press. And the weight of the stone slowly squeezes out the oil.

Oh, and there’s one more thing olive oil was used for in Bible times. To anoint the Messiah. In fact, the word Messiah means “Anointed One.”

So picture the scene. The night before he dies, Jesus goes to the Garden of Gethsemane on the Mount of Olives.

Guess what “Gethsemane” means? Olive press.


As Bible scholar Ray Vander Laan suggests, in the Garden of Gethsemane the night he was betrayed, Jesus began to feel the burden that was laid on him. The pressure. Laid on him was the sin of the entire world. He was burdened in the place of the olive press.

This reminds me that Jesus’ message was not merely, “Be loving, be meek, go and change the world.” It was: Your sin is laid upon him. He bore the weight of the world. And the pressure began that night here at Gethsemane.

What happened next must have seemed like a fast-forward nightmare to Jesus’ followers.


You may be wondering what the disciples themselves asked: Why did Jesus have to die?

Well, we all sin. And we all sense that there is a sin-debt that we must somehow work off, or atone for. But the Bible says it’s way too big. No one can bear the weight.

So God came to us. And he bore the burden. Felt the weight of the world. So you and I can have a relationship with him based on his love — not our fear and guilt.

Imagine trying to have a close personal friendship with someone who owes you a million dollars, and hasn’t paid you a penny on his debt for a decade.

Even if you were generous enough to give him all the time in the world to repay the loan, he would constantly be thinking of his debt to you. Any friendship would be overwhelmed by feelings of shame and guilt — unless you yourself wrote out a contract declaring the entire debt paid in full, and showed it to your friend.

Now your friend can have a relationship with you based on nothing but love — love intensified with his deep gratitude toward you!

This is why Jesus went to the cross, where he fulfilled John the Baptist’s words spoken three years earlier: “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world.”

A week after he entered the city in triumph, on the very night the Passover lambs were being sacrificed — the Lamb of God paid for the sins of us all.

And that long night began here, in Gethsemane, where the Messiah was anointed at the place of the olive press — anointed not with oil but with his own precious blood.


Jesus bore the weight of the world so you don’t have to. See the burden of your sin carried by his strong shoulders. Worship him for carrying that weight!